This year, the Birdcage enclosure during Derby Day at Flemington will be devoid of some of the usual noxious species of racegoers that have become so bothersome to fair dinkum punters in recent years. I am of course talking about the arrogant, cock-sure, rude and obnoxious modern phenomenon known as the “w-nker banker”. The fair dinkum punters are now all a little lighter on in the wallet, thanks largely to the unscrupulous antics of w-nker bankers in recent decades, but we can take comfort from the thought that at least this year we will not have to put up with these “showy spivs” at the track on Saturday.

Society has traditionally harboured various forms the “spiv”; that is typically flashy dressing w-nkers who make a buck by disreputable means. Be that as it may, the modern merchant banking version of the “spiv” is a far more potent derivate insomuch as these “spivs” actually believe their own sh-t and think that they really do contribute something useful to society.

The term “Merchant Banker” has taken on a somewhat important sounding pitch over the years. Big end of town finance; hedge funds, derivatives, margin lending, leveraged buyouts, short selling, blah, blah, blah. One may well be forgiven for believing that merchant banking has morphed into some form of legitimate econometric based science. But don’t be fooled! The jargon is merely an attempt by the industry to dress itself up to resemble legitimacy. Scratch the surface just a little and you’ll discover that there is really nothing beneath. The industry produces nothing, the players are, by-and-large some of the less intellectually equipped members of society and even the maths is pretty basic.

Merchant bankers. We all know them. We knew them back at school. They were the blokes who were not bad at maths but were nowhere near bright enough to go to medical school. They were usually pretty average at English too and never got a high enough Enter score to get into law school. They thought they were too good for a trade. But they did have the gift of the gab. They could talk the leg off a chair and had the ability to make one suspect that there just might be some substance to what they were saying.

Whilst merchant bankers have managed to kidnap and hold most of the economy and traditional industries hostage in recent times, they have never really been able to exert any substantial influence over the thoroughbred racing industry. Sure the price of yearlings has gone up, the cost of running the industry has been stretched but fortunately the race clubs, betting institutions and the breeding fraternity generally appear to be well positioned to move on and beyond the current financial crises, save for the extent to which it has a knock on effect upon the “real economy”.

My guess is that the w-nker bankers have never been bright enough to understand how a bookie sets his book or the intricacies of the breeding industry. Maybe they just thought they were too good for the racing industry? Nevertheless I used to enjoy retorting to stupid inane dinner party conversations centred on leveraged acquisitions and derivatives, in horseracing parlances such as; “Don’t you think you paying over’s for that childcare stock?”, or “I’ll give you no better than odds on that your hedonism will end in tears!”

As the w-nker bankers have never really been interested in horseracing, the racetrack has always been a solace from them. It is one place one can go every Saturday and not have to put up with their dribble. By and large there are fair dinkum people at the track week in and week out with the exception usually being the Spring Carnival. Banker w-nkers need to be seen. They are by nature flashy spivs and Flemington on Derby Day is traditionally THE place to be! On Derby Day the spivs have heads on them like mice. They’re everywhere, particularly in the Birdcage but, as you might imagine, they haven’t got a clue.

In previous years the w-nker banker would usually be the bloke holding up the betting line, trying to work out whether 50 cents each way on Whobegotyou was a more prudent investment than simply having it in a $1 quinella with Pre Eminence. He would usually manage to get his bet on and back to the Birdcage and his pooncey bottle of Bollinger just before they jump, and blissfully or wilfully unaware that in consequence of his dilly dallying, I was one of the poor mug punters who missed out on the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to the rest of my month by having my entire weeks pay on what was obvious to all fair dinkum punters -Whobegotyou to win.

Not this year. This year the w-nker bankers are sitting, sulking at home (if they’re lucky enough to still have one) trying to work out what to do with the rest of their lives and where their next $1 will come from. This year Flemington should be a “Spiv Free Zone”. Sure the spivs have buggered the economy for all of us and we are all suffering now and having to pay for their arrogance, ignorance and stupidity. However at least this year us mere non-merchants can enjoy our Spring Racing Carnival without putting up with the dribble of w-nker bankers trespassing upon our turf. We can enjoy the Derby, perhaps in poverty and perhaps unemployed, but certainly in peace and in the company of like minded fair dinkum punters.

Peter Fray

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